West & Central Africa Correspondent, Dakar
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Jan 17, 2013

French surround Malian town, await African troops

BAMAKO, Jan 17 (Reuters) – French troops surrounded the
Malian town of Diabaly on Thursday, keeping Islamists rebels who
had seized it three days ago bottled up while a West African
military force took shape.

The French held back from launching a full-out assault on
the town as the Al Qaeda linked rebels had taken refuge in the
homes of civilians.

Jan 17, 2013

Sahara hostage siege turns Mali war global

ALGIERS/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Islamist fighters have opened an international front in Mali’s civil war by taking dozens of Western hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert just as French troops launched an offensive against rebels in neighboring Mali.

Nearly 24 hours after gunmen stormed the natural gas pumping site and workers’ housing before dawn on Wednesday, little was certain beyond a claim by a group calling itself the “Battalion of Blood” that it was holding 41 foreign nationals, including Americans, Japanese and Europeans, at Tigantourine, deep in the Sahara.

Jan 16, 2013

Sahara Islamists take hostages, spreading Mali war

ALGIERS/BAMAKO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Islamist fighters seized
dozens of Western and Algerian hostages in a dawn raid on a
natural gas facility deep in the Sahara on Wednesday and
demanded France halt a new offensive against rebels in
neighbouring Mali.

Three people, among them one British and one French, were
reported killed, but details were sketchy and numbers of those
held at Tigantourine ranged from 41 foreigners – including
perhaps seven Americans as well as Japanese and Europeans – to
over 100 local staff, held separately and less closely watched.

Jan 16, 2013

France launches ground campaign against Mali rebels

BAMAKO/PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – French troops launched
their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on
Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against
battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six
days of air strikes.

France has called for international support against Islamist
insurgents it says pose a threat to Africa and the West,
acknowledging it faces a long fight against the well-equipped
militant fighters who seized Mali’s vast desert north last year.

Jan 16, 2013

French, Malian troops encircle Islamist rebels in central Mali

BAMAKO/PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – French ground troops and
Malian army forces encircled Islamist fighters in the central
Malian town of Diabaly on Wednesday, military sources said, as
France prepared to launch its first ground assault on the
rebels.

France, which has warned that Islamists’ seizure of Mali’s
desert north last year represented a threat to the security of
the West, moved a column of armoured vehicles on Tuesday into
position at the nearby town of Niono, some 300 km (190 miles)
from the dusty riverside capital Bamako.

Jan 16, 2013

France to stay in Mali until stability restored

BAMAKO/DUBAI (Reuters) – France pledged on Tuesday to keep troops in Mali until stability returned to the West African country, raising the specter of a long campaign against al Qaeda-linked rebels who held their ground despite a fifth day of air strikes.

Paris has poured hundreds of soldiers into Mali and carried out 50 bombing raids since Friday in the Islamist-controlled northern half of the country, which Western and regional states fear could become a base for terrorist attacks in Africa and Europe.

Jan 15, 2013

France keeps up Mali air strikes, African troop plan advances

BAMAKO, Jan 15 (Reuters) – France kept up its air strikes
against Islamist rebels in Mali as plans to deploy African
troops gathered pace on Tuesday amid concerns that delays could
endanger a wider mission to dislodge al Qaeda and its allies.

France has already poured hundreds of troops into Mali and
carried out days of air strikes since Friday in a vast desert
area seized last year by an Islamist alliance that combines al
Qaeda’s north African wing AQIM with Mali’s home-grown MUJWA and
Ansar Dine rebel groups.

Jan 14, 2013

West African army chiefs to approve Mali troops plan

BAMAKO, Jan 15 (Reuters) – West African defence chiefs will
on Tuesday approve plans to speed up the deployment of African
troops against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, with some
regional soldiers seen arriving next week.

France has already poured hundreds of troops into Mali and
carried out days of air strikes in a vast desert area seized
last year by an Islamist alliance that combines al Qaeda’s north
African wing AQIM with Mali’s home-grown MUJWA and Ansar Dine
rebel groups.

Jan 14, 2013

Mali Islamists counter attack, promise France long war

BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counter-offensive on Monday in central Mali after four days of air strikes by French warplanes on their strongholds in the desert north, promising to drag France into a long and brutal Afghanistan-style ground war.

France intensified its air raids on Sunday using Rafale aircraft and Gazelle attack helicopters to pummel training camps at the heart of the vast area seized by rebels in April, while pouring hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako.

Jan 14, 2013

Mali Islamists counter-attack, threaten France

BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Mali launched a counter-offensive on Monday after three days of strikes by French fighter jets on their strongholds in the desert north, vowing to drag France into a long and brutal ground war.

France intensified its air raids on Sunday using state-of-the-art Rafale planes and Gazelle attack helicopters to pummel training camps at the heart of the vast area seized by rebels in April, while pouring hundreds of its ground troops into the capital Bamako.

    • About Bate

      "Bate Felix is a Dakar-based West & Central Africa Correspondent. He joined Reuters in 2007 as a graduate trainee and has worked in Johannesburg, London, Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam. He now covers economics, politics and general news stories in over a dozen countries in West & Central Africa."
      Joined Reuters:
      2007
      Languages:
      English, French
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